More than 24 hours after the debacle at Anfield, it is still not easy to come to terms with the devastating implosion of our team in just 1200 seconds.
Regular BKers know that I believe our first team players are not lazy and calculated but committed and passionate about our club. It is natural to want to point towards a lack of attitude by our players for this embarrassing performance, but I reckon this would be self-deceiving. Yesterday, technically and tactically we were not good enough and Arsene Wenger is the main culprit for this.
It would be a lot easier to blame a lack of passion and commitment as the main cause of our defeat, but on the day we were simply not good enough. It will now be key for Wenger and his players to show us this was just a bad day at the office.
In a nutshell, we lost the game through two horribly defended Pool set-pieces and a subsequent inability to turn the game round without leaving the door wide open for the Scousers’ deadly counter-attacks. And deadly they were.
As 17highburyterrace pointed out yesterday, nothing is more frustrating to watch than Mertesacker having to run back towards his own goal chasing the game. We lacked shape, organisation, composure, professionalism and, most of all, any dominance when it still mattered.
The set-pieces were defended badly by the whole of the team, as we looked all over the place (especially the second one), but our CBs should have taken better control of those situations.
It is also fair to say we were not able to match the energy of the Pool players at the start of the game. We knew we had it coming and we should have been prepared better for this.
As others have pointed out already this weekend, and as I have been saying since the start of the season, our weakest area is in the double-DM pivot. Without a fit Flamini we are a different team, especially against the top teams. And going forward we need to improve on Flamini as well if we really want to come close to beating the top teams on a regular basis (and win silverware).
We lost the battle in midfield as we were unable to match Pool’s energy and speed, and I am holding my breath for what is to come in the next few games, as we seem to have structural problems in this crucial area.
I like Arteta, but he is not the man to protect our back-four and lead our team in these kinds of matches. Keen observers will point out he was not fully fit and he did not get much support defensively from Jack (also not fully fit). I would agree with that, but even if Arteta had been fully fit he still would have struggled to protect and lead effectively on the day.
Arsene had a chance to properly strengthen the DM area during January but he chose not to. By all accounts, KK is another attack-minded midfielder rather than a defence-minded one. If this area turns out to be the area where we lose this season’s chances to win silverware, I will be very disappointed in Wenger. Let’s see what he will do next for the games against Manure, Liverpool and Munich.
But it was not just our DMs and CBs who were not good enough on the day; Cazorla, Ozil and Ox also had little or no impact on the game and Giroud was totally isolated. Our midfield only started to play as a bit of a unit in the second half, when it was far too late.
Without a good functioning DM-pivot the defence will not get the right protection and our attack will be left isolated. I cannot stress enough how vital the deeper laying midfield duo is to the overall effectiveness of the team. They are the brakes and gear box of the team.
I am confident that Mertesacker and Koscielny will sort out the defence again, but I have doubts about our ability to protect them and to dominate midfield play during the next few crucial games again. Wenger and Bould have their work cut out here, and let’s hope they will get it right.